While the pandemic finally freed us from the office, some are trying to use virtual reality to drag us back. 

 

 

Those fortunate enough to keep their job during the pandemic (and were able to work from home) were taught something unexpected in 2020: the office is absolutely obsolete.

Indeed, one of the lesser victims of COVID just might be asinine inter-workplace small-talk. Suddenly, it’s no more pencils, no more books, no more dirty looks from old mate when we nod ourselves through his macro analysis of the game last night. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that left to our own devices, we’re free to do what needs to be done, briefly interspersed with blankly staring out our kitchen window.

Sadly, a faceless cabal of do-gooders have arrived to ruin our peace. A Wall Street Journal article titled ‘Are Videogames the future of remote work?’, fantastically describes the illusory nature of a company, one that features beach walks, German Shepherds and a Medieval castle with middle-management lurking beyond the gate. It’s all lies, of course, the company is using a service that allows its employees to be linked by a dot-matrix representative of an office.

Ostensibly, while the cubicle is still there, you just can’t see it.

 

A visual representation of the virtual office (Credit: IDE Corp)

 

I mean, I like 1995 too, but I like 2021 better. I feel technology has evolved us beyond the walls of the office. Yet, technology companies are hell-bent on using new tech to drag us back. However, the above story is merely the tip of a very deluded iceberg.

“People have valued the fluidity of working remotely, but what’s really lacking is the culture aspect. It feels isolating because the only time you’re interacting with your coworkers is during formal meetings,” said Niall Carroll, Chairman of CG Tech’s The Virtulab, the creators of Virtuworx, a virtual platform that hosts virtual remote conferences.

“ you have the sense that you’re in a real meeting, you can meet as avatars with your other coworkers, and you can collaborate on projects in a spontaneous and informal manner,” Carroll asserted.

Ok.

Elsewhere, a company named Arthur has raised more than two million dollars so we can have meetings in virtual reality.

As Venture Beat put it, “(Through Arthur) you can also set up a virtual office, as the company is offering small businesses and enterprises a place in VR where they can meet, hold events, and escape the boredom of the Zoomverse. The idea is to enable geographically dispersed teams — and those separated by the pandemic — to meet and manage their work in a virtual space that is analogous to physical offices. If you want to gather at the water cooler and chat with people, you can do so using your voice, or you can take advantage of the 3D audio and pull someone aside to have a private one-on-one. You can watch videos together, show a slide presentation to a group, and engage in icebreaker activities.”

Arthur CEO Christoph Fleischmann said (in a virtual sense), “Many science fiction writers have talked about bringing people with holograms together…so while the idea itself might not be that innovative, how we go about solving it is interesting. We actually started as a distributed team. So from day one, we wanted to build a product we ourselves would use. We wanted our application to be built from the ground up for virtual reality and 3D spaces. We did not want to bring the limitations of the 2D world into this space. We wanted to build this for large multinational companies.”

This is what the limitless space looks like:

 

A virtual mixer in ‘Arthur’. (Credit: Arthur)

 

I don’t want to be negative, or anti-technology, but the virtual office space is the 21st-century version of the meeting that should have been an email: completely obsolete, ego-driven and wasting everyone’s time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work.

 

 

 

 

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